Tenting a house for termites (Fumigation & heat treatment process)


Tenting a house for drywood termites involves some preparation work on the part of the homeowner. If you do not prep your home adequately for pest control fumigation, you can put yourself, your family, or your pets at a health risk.

Most professional pest control companies will help educate you on this process, but it helps to be aware of what you will need to do ahead of time so you have an idea of the process and so you can ask your termite control company additional questions.

How to prepare for termite tenting your home

Most homeowners who decide to get termite tent fumigation do not realize that they need to do some significant preparation before they start the process.

Video explaining basic termite fumigation preparation steps

Things to remove before your house is fumigated

  1. Your Food: Any food that has already been open or in which the seal has been popped should be double bagged in special Nylon Polymer bags. After they have been properly sealed in these Nylon Polymer bags they can be left in the home. If you have any doubt as to whether or not some type of food should be sealed, bag it. When in doubt, you can also remove the items from your home and store them with neighbors or friends. Canned foods and foods in glass jars do not have to be bagged. For example, a 2-liter bottle of soda can be left as is.
  2. Pet Food: Should be treated the same as human food. If it is open it should be double bagged with Nylon Polymer bags. If it is still sealed by the manufacturer, it can remain as is.
  3. Alcohol: Again, treat these the same as other liquids. If they still contain the manufacturers seal feel free to leave them unbagged. If the seal is broken in any way then double bag it. Corked wine bottles should either be bagged or stored horizontally.
  4. Tobacco: Tobacco products should be treated the same as food products prior to tenting. Bag up anything that is not still sealed by the manufacturer.
  5. Pets: It’s not difficult to remember to remove your dog or cat but other little critters should also be removed prior fumigation. If your kids have something like a hamster, lizard, gold fish, etc. they should be taken from the home during the fumigation process.
  6. House Plants: Remove any plant you may have in your home until after the fumigation is complete.

How to seal Nylon Polymer Bags

  1. Put one of these nylon polymer bags inside the other prior to filling them with household items.
  2. Place you items in the bags filling nearly to the top but leaving enough room to properly seal both bags.
  3. Start with the inner bag, twist the top of the bag and double it over itself. Then secure it with tape or a twist tie. Repeat this process with the outer bag.
  4. Next test the bag for air leaks by pressing the bag gently and observing and listening for any air leaks. The bag should hold air if it does not have any leaks.
  5. Finally if you have any questions about bagging your household items please ask your exterminator. If you picked a good one, they should have plenty of experience knowing what to bag and what not too. You could also ask them to take a look around your house before the scheduled day for fumigation to double check for items you may have left unsealed that should have been sealed. The Fumigator will also perform a check the day of the scheduled fumigation to identify anything that may have been accidentally been left unsealed.
Video showing some termite tenting facts

What is termite tenting?

‘Termite tenting’ is another term for drywood termite fumigation or heat treatment. This two drywood termite treatments derived their knick name ‘tenting’ because their processes involve surrounding a house with a large nylon tent that completely seals off the structure so that either a gas or heat level lethal to drywood termites can fill the entire structure and kill off any termites living inside.

Termite heat treatment and most termiticide fumigants will also kill off most other insects dwelling in your home, though they are not guaranteed to.

Keep in mind, that termite tenting only kills off colonies of drywood termites; it will NOT eradicate subterranean termites because they enter your home from below ground and tenting is ineffective at reaching their underground nesting area. This is why treating a home for subterranean termites also involves the prices of termite trenching (in addition to tenting if termites have significantly infested a home).

The other type of termite tenting uses heat instead of chemical gas to kill the termites in your home. With heat tenting, again, your house is sealed off completely with a “tent” but instead of being filled with insecticide it is filled with heat that the termites cannot withstand.

What is the cost of tenting a house for termites?

The average cost of tenting a house for termites is around $1200 to $4000 for average-sized homes. This will vary depending on the size of your home and due to price variations in different pest control companies. It is always a good idea to get at least three separate quotes from different termite companies.

The following prices are simply estimated to give you an idea of what fumigation or heat extermination might cost. Both termite fumigation and termite heat extermination will be based off a price per cubic foot of the home plus any additional areas such as a deck, garage, etc. Keep in mind pest control companies in your area may charge slightly higher or lower.

  • Termite Fumigation Extermination Cost: around $1200-$2500 for a 1250 square foot house and around $2200-$3800 for a 2500 square foot house.
  • Termite Heat Extermination Cost: around $1250 for a 1250 square foot house and around $2500 for a 2500 square foot house.

Termite tenting is one of the more expensive types of treatments but at the same time it is one of the most effective and complete drywood termite treatments available. That being said there are some drawbacks to it.

Tenting for Termites Safety and Health Risks

Most people have understandable worries about possible health risks of termite tenting. Particularly people are often worried about how it may affect pregnant women, small children, pets, and the elderly. However, every person should ensure they look into and ensure the health risks and possible complications associated with fumigating an entire home.

Termite tenting vs spot treatment

Video explaining differences in spot treatment vs. termite tenting

Does tenting for termites work?

Tenting a house for termites works well for exterminating drywood termites in your home. However, termite tenting doesn’t prevent repeat drywood termite infestations. Tenting doesn’t address how drywood termites entered your home, often through small cracks and crevices. Additionally, fumigating homes for termites does not kill drywood termite eggs. Termite eggs can hatch after tenting, so you might see termites after fumigation. But, you don’t need to worry because these termite larvae will die off soon without being cared for and fed by their colony’s worker termites.

How long does tenting a house for termites take?

Termite fumigant tenting normally takes 3 days and 2 nights. These times can vary depending on the size of your home.

Termite heat tenting normally takes around 8 hours, but times vary based on the size of your home and external weather conditions (if it’s colder outside, it’ll take longer to get your home’s internal temperature to around 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit).

Further Reading:

5 thoughts on “Tenting a house for termites (Fumigation & heat treatment process)”

    • In my opinion it is a good idea to pay for termite protection, which is essentially prevention. The number one reason for this is that most home owners insurances (nearly all of them actually) do not cover termite damage. They essentially consider this part of home maintenance and therefore do not include it as standard coverage. This is why getting some type of annual termite treatment or termite protection is especially important if you live in a area at high risk for termites.

      There are several maps available with a google search that show this information. Here is one for the States. For example the threat of termites is far less in Montana than in Florida where it is quite high. If you live in a high risk area, it is a good idea to get some kind of preventative termite treatment and receive annual inspections.

      As far as paying for protection, do a little research about what methods of prevention are the most reliable for the types of termites prevalent in your area. If you have predominately drywood or subterranean termites the methods that should be used will be a bit different. The next thing you can do is get a several quotes for different termite control specialists in your area. Anyone hiring out any type of termite treatment or control, should get at least three quotes from different companies. Try getting quotes from small local pest control companies as well as the larger national franchises. You can check AngiesList for reviews or ask other people in your community for recommendations.

    • It also depends on what type of protection you have been paying for since then. If a home has been infested in the past (which yours was since it was tented) then it is a good idea to continue to pay for termite prevention treatment so you do not end up with a repeat infestation which can happen. Most professionals recommend at least an annual termite inspection, sometimes more frequent attention if you live in a high-risk area for termites. You may want to look up how high of a risk the area where you live is to termite infestations and factor that in. Another step you could take is to contact 3 or more pest control companies in your area and receive quotes from them to see if you could save some money on the termite protection you are already paying for. There may be cheaper companies that do just as good of a job. Ask around from friends and family to see if anyone has a company they could recommend or check online reviews.

  1. If you select the right local pest control provider, they will do all this work for you as part of the cost of the fumigation. I have no idea why you would ever want to do this yourself.

    • Dean, I agree. People who go the DIY route are taking on a significant risk and a lot of work that professionals are experienced and trained at doing. It all depends on if you are treating an actual infestation or just performing termite trenching for preventing subterranean termites from entering a home. For example, here’s a video showing home-owners how to do their own termite trenching.


Leave a Comment

I accept the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Featured on lifehacker.com
Leading the way in termite information

Let's tackle termites together

Prevent termites
Identify Termites
Remove Termites

I paid way more for termite treatment than I'd like to admit. I hope this site helps you avoid doing the same.

Get a Free Estimate

You can answer a few questions to get free, no-obligation quotes from several pest control companies.

You can then compare them and save money.

Request Free quotes

Termite Advise

Termite control is something most of us don't think much about until there's a problem. I didn't think about it until I found out I had a termite infestation (later than I should have).

This website gives you some simple strategies to identify and prevent termites.

Contact Me

I don't have a newsletter set up yet, but please reach out to me with any concerns or questions.

Get in touch